TO THE EDITOR: A serious fight is brewing over the Wisconsin state legislature's Republican-sponsored mining bill, which would open enormous tracts of the Penokee Range between Ashland and Hurley to potentially disastrous iron ore mining.
An almost identical mining bill was narrowly defeated in the previous legislative session by the vote of one Republican of conscience, State Sen. Dale Schultz.
With a larger majority in the present session, the Republicans are likely to rush this same mining bill into law. The bill, which was basically written by the out-of-state mining company Gogebic Taconite (GTac), strips environmental protections and citizen input from existing mining laws and frees GTac of liability for environmental damage.
Polling has consistently shown that Wisconsin voters reject the effort to loosen mining restrictions and cut citizens out of the decision-making process regarding the future of our state's resources.
And yet the legislature insists on pursuing a course that is likely to set them at odds with the wishes of the majority of their constituents.
Treaty rights disputes also guarantee legal challenges from the Bad River Ojibwe Tribe.
To find out who's pushing this bill so hard, follow the money.
A report released by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reveals that $15.6 million have been contributed by pro-mining interests to state Republican lawmakers and Gov. Walker from 2010 to June 2012. In that same period, only $25 thousand have been contributed by pro-environment groups. The report is available at www.wisdc.org.
The Sierra Club and the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council have issued a helpful fact sheet clearly laying out these issues. Write to WRPC at Box 263, Tomahawk, WI 54487 for a copy and join in supporting their important work to preserve the integrity of Wisconsin's scenic and tribal lands for future generations.